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They are lucky – they make it out of the country along with 5 million of their fellow countrymen.Fleming points out that at the same time, many more people than that become internal refugees – kicked out of their homes but unable to leave Syria.
Zamel also includes a personal note of thanks at the end of the book.
After telling this incredible tale, Fleming asks for the reader’s moral outrage: “Why is there no massive resettlement program for Syrians – the victims of the worst war of our times?
She meets and becomes engaged to Bassem, another Syrian refugee who was once a member of the Free Syrian Army (one of the opposition forces fighting against President Assad). Doaa has to conquer a lifelong fear of open water, facing a journey across rough seas in a vehicle not made for this kind of sailing.
Life for refugees is dire, however, becoming unsafe enough that they decide to make the perilous boat journey to cross to Europe on a smuggler boat in order to apply for asylum. After four days on the water, the smuggler boat filled with more than five hundred refugees is suddenly attacked by pirates.
They had spent four days floating without food or water.
After earning awards from humanitarian agencies for her heroism, Doaa is now resettled in Sweden. As Doaa says, she wants more than anything to eventually “return to Syria so I can breathe again.” Fleming ends the book with a heartfelt acknowledgment of Doaa Zamel’s generosity in sharing her story.
In the next few hours, the fifty to one hundred survivors of the shipwreck start to die. The next morning, after Doaa and Bassem tell each other that they will never stop loving one another, an old man swims near them with a nine-month-old baby.
They are the only survivors of a twenty-seven-person family; after asking them to hold the baby for a bit so he can rest, the old man dies.
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